With the semester coming to an end, I want to take a minute to reflect on how blogging, the big thing I added to my teaching this semester, went. As with all first attempts, there are several things I would do differently, but the big thing I'm thinking, especially after reading and watching my students' digital reflections, is that I will do it again.
I assigned blog posts and responses once per week. There was to be a post for each of our readings and then we had a series of inquiry posts to think about the projects we were working on. These were all to be pretty informal. My idea was that students would use their daybooks to collect thoughts for the posts (just as I have done for this one) and then craft the more public post from that. Then, the students were to respond to each other on the blogs.
The big issue we ran into was responding. I asked the students about it and as you can see here, the reasons why it wasn't happening ranged from feeling that it was pointless, to time, to others' not posting on time. We worked some on that and it did get better, but it never got to where I wanted it to be.
I suspect this has to do with the authenticity of the blog writing to begin with. I think if the students had had more choice in what was posted, responding would have made more sense. In many ways, my request to post about readings was a surveillance move to see that reading was actually happening. Lacy simply had students write responses in daybooks and then pick what they wanted to post once per week. I think that might work better. Also, I think I want to encourage a "creative" post that can lead to the ethnography project once per week earlier in the semester. And then one of my students even suggested giving the theme for the week and letting the students pick their own readings. I think some would LOVE this freedom and I'm seriously considering making it an option (if you don't like this reading, pick your own and share it) next time I teach this class.
In the end the students said they loved the blogging and that it taught them to work with and respond to their group members - and gave them a place to do it when they couldn't be face to face. Not bad for a first attempt. But, I want the blogs to do more. I want them to truly become places where students think out loud with others. That's what I'll be pondering as I move forward with this project.